This year The Royal British Legion will celebrate its 90th anniversary.
The 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year will commemorate 90 years of the Poppy Appeal and Remembrance.
What could be a greater gesture than to invest £50 million in to to the rehabilitation of injured service personnel?
Over the next ten years the Legion will fund the operating costs for the Personnel Recovery Centres (PRCs) and the creation and operation of the Royal British Legion Battle Back Centre, RBL BBC.
Women at war has been speaking to Ruth Powell, who is responsible for co-ordinating the 90th Anniversary.
“The Battle Back Centre will provide activity based rehabilitation to help wounded, injured and sick personnel regain their fitness and return to duty, or reskill in order to get back to civilian life”.
The centre is integral to the Armed Forces Personnel Recovery Programme.
As a part of the programme, injured personnel undertake a programme of physical and mental rehabilitation and take part in challenging sporting and outdoor activities to aid their recovery.
As Ruth says:
“Putting the ‘phys’ back into rehab!
“The challenge of sport is an absolute driver to recovery”.
She feels that an important part of the British Legion’s 90th anniversary message is to present the fresh contemporary image of one of the country’s founding welfare charities.
The RBL was started after the Great War when those in power became concerned about the vast numbers of men returning home after a traumatic war with no jobs, pensions or welfare support in place for them.
When they think of the work the legion does today, some imagine old men in clubs and veterans in uniform standing on the street selling poppies.
However, Ruth is keen to explain:
“The charity is just as relevant to the service personnel of today as we are to veterans of previous conflicts.
“In our 90th year, the legion’s work is crucial to helping the
“Afghan generation” of the Armed Forces family”.
Since 2003 they have helped 16,000 service personnel who have needed welfare support as a result of the Afghan and Iraq wars.
“It’s extraordinary how few people know that we spend more than £200,000 a day; that’s £1.4 million a week delivering welfare”. Says Ruth.
“A friend of mine asked her serving sister what the legion meant to her and she said ‘poppies and Granny’.
“I want to challenge this view because we are so much more than that.
“I want to present the public with the polar opposite as well.”
Part of Ruth’s strategy is to complement the legion’s current good work with a new team of ‘champions’.
Over the next year most military sports teams will be wearing the 90th anniversary logo in matches and fixtures up and down the country.
“I want to challenge the perceptions of people -when they see young fit personnel in service sport proudly supporting the British Legion“.
These people are the crème de la crème of the services, they epitomise strength, leadership and endurance which is what the British Legion is represents”.
We are not just about November, we deliver welfare 365 days a year and need to be visible all year round”.
The Royal British Legion is keen to gain the support of young service personnel, because as Ruth passionately puts it:
“We’re shoulder to shoulder with all who serve…. for the next 90 years and beyond”.
Join with Ruth now- email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
All images care of The Royal British Legion.